These collaborative robots work alongside human employees, sending productivity sky-high. But IT teams must be ready to take on complex programming, deal with connectivity issues and get used to sharing workspace with 6-foot-tall machines.
Stories by Cindy Waxer
Companies are taking matters into their own hands with internal controls, open privacy policies, ethical codes and greater candor over how they're collecting and parsing personal data. But many wonder whether it's enough to allay consumers' fears as techniques for manipulating data multiply.
Ten years ago, Logicalis, a systems integrator, would have needed a wiretap to overhear the grumblings of a competitor's dissatisfied customer or prospect. But when a Logicalis sales representative stumbled across a LinkedIn status update revealing an individual's frustration with a rival company's cloud service, he knew just what to do.
At first glance, UPS' warehouse workers might be mistaken for gun-toting cyborgs out of a dystopian movie. But a closer look at the stainless steel devices wrapped around employees' forearms reveal a hi-tech contraption that scans barcodes and shoots bright magenta ink - not laser beams.
"Initially, the device looks a teeny bit scary," admits Cathy Callagee, UPS vice president of information services. Fortunately, aesthetic appeal was the least of the company's goals when it teamed up with Hewlett-Packard to design a handheld device capable of scanning barcodes and printing paperless labels on packages in one fell swoop. Three years of brainstorming and countless prototypes later, the result is the HP Handheld sp400 All-in-One--a device that combines a 2-D barcode imager, inkjet printer and wireless communication. The project earned UPS a 2009 CIO 100 award in the US.
For a company that manufactures products that protect the flow of materials, Flowserve was having a tough time pumping standardised technologies and business processes throughout its 300 global locations. The culmination of a series of mergers and acquisitions, the company, based in Irving, Texas, found itself saddled with a whopping 68 ERP systems, scattered data centre structures, and fragmented voice and data networks.
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